While many of us had a heart attack at the price for Apple Watch Edition, there’s an app that will help medical researchers better understand major diseases. ResearchKit is perhaps the most compelling app to emerge from the conference.

The software tool will allow researchers to collect an unprecedented amount of data on our behaviors using the iPhone and other Apple wearables. The goal is tackle major disease via the crowd.

Developers can use Apple’s open source ResearchKit to develop apps that use built-in sensors on new Apple products. Expect apps to hit for the iPhone first, followed by the Apple Watch and any other wearables Apple has planned.

Already, apps are available from top research hospitals. Massachusetts General’s GlucoSuccess app allows diabetes patients to participate in a research study that monitors feedback on how diet and exercise affects their blood sugar readings.

It will remind patients to take medications or inspect their feet. “It’s very hard in practice for people to carry out all the recommendations and stick with them over time,” said Dr Stanley Shaw, co-director of the Center for Assessment Technology and Continuous Health at Massachusetts General.

The purpose of the apps is to aid patients in following through with treatment protocols. It also gives researchers and physicians important information on how a person is responding to treatment, and how lifestyle choices impact their disease.

Take heart disease. An app can remind patients to take their daily medications, while being able to monitor physical activity. This data could aid in annual or bi-annual checkups to see how the patient is progressing.

Your cardiologist could use the physical activity data along with a stress test to better adjust your treatment and medications. It turns your doctor visit into smart medicine.

Other apps released for ResearchKit include studies on asthma, breast cancer and Parkinson’s disease. All three are designed to aid the volunteers in following through with important treatments.

Financial Benefit of ResearchKit

Not only can ResearchKit revolutionize medicine, it can make health studies more impactful. Volunteers will be easier than ever to secure, with apps being promoted on a variety of news and health websites.

Another benefit? Costs. Research into non-major diseases can often be cost prohibitive. That’s no longer the case when a hospital can launch an app. It will also create more study opportunities for the major diseases afflicting our population today.

ResearchKit may not have the special aluminum or stainless steel of the Apple Watch, but it has the potential to actually change the world. Sorry Jonathan Ive, I’d rather see better diabetes treatments than learn about the links in Apple Watch band.


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